The Penguins claim their eighth consecutive win and beat the Lightning, 4-1.
We're pretty sure we've mentioned this before, but the Lightning look like some death, attack ninja squad in their all-black Reebok Edge-Super-Duper-Mega-Ultra-Awesome-Humungo-Women-Will-Want-You Uniform System jerseys.
-We get a look at Ryan Stone for the first time in a Pittsburgh Penguins uniform.
-Maxime Talbot will re-join the lineup as well.
-Ty Conklin gets the start in net for the Penguins.
-Karri Ramo is the Lightning's starting goaltender.
-Erik Christensen and Tyler Kennedy are out of the lineup with the flu.
-Ryan Lannon is the Penguins only healthy scratch.
-Andreas Karlsson is Tampa Bay's only official scratch.
19:27: The Lightning go on the penalty kill almost immediately as Martin St. Louis trips Colby Armstrong.
17:27: The Penguins allow another power play to expire without much of an attack.
16:53: Talbot immediately shows he's in game shape as he forces Shane O'Brien into a turnover in the corner.
16:06: FSN Pittsburgh shows us the re-tweaked lines for the Penguins:
15:10: Paul Steigerwald goes one step further than us in making fun of the Lightning's uniforms and says they look like pajamas.
14:23: Steigerwald says Crosby compared Conklin to Martin Brodeur? Uh... OK.
14:10: Crosby zips down the ice and undresses Filip Kuba with a marvelous move. He ends up shooting the puck off the side of the net however.
8:22: We get our first look at Stone wearing a Penguins jersey. He's wearing No. 33. Frankly, we're amazed they never retired that number in honor of Ziggy Palffy.
7:35: Conklin absolutely robs Vincent Lecavalier. St. Louis slides a pass from the crease to the side of the net. Lecavalier has an empty net to shoot out but Conklin makes a miraculous save with his glove.
0:00: End of a pretty nonchalant period. Lightning 0, Penguins 0.
-Tampa Bay owns a 13-8 advantage in shots.
-Pirates pitcher Matt Capps is attending the game. Surely the Penguins will lose now.
17:42: Kuba throws a puck towards the net and it deflects off Kris Letang. The puck slides right to Jan Hlavac who has an empty net to shoot at, but he hits the side of the cage.
17:17: Bob Errey talks about Ty Conlkin sleeping with horseshoes. Jack Woltz unavailable for comment.
15:49: Paul Rangers whips a wrister on net. Conlkin makes the save and the puck goes behind the net. Ranger goes after it and pulls it back in front of the cage and lifts it over a prone Conklin with a backhander. Lighting 1-0.
14:47: Vaclav Prospal sends a lead pass for O'Brien in the slot. O'Brien re-directs the puck on net but Conklin holds his ground with a solid save.
12:54: As the Penguins swarm Tampa Bay's net, the puck comes free in the crease. Before Malkin can get his stick on it, Ramo covers it up just as it approaches the goal line.
7:49: Holy Vladimir Vujtek what a shot. On a power play, Letang fakes a shot and slides a pass across the ice to Sykora who blasts a one-timer that hits clinks off the far post and goes in past Ramo. No one is stopping that shot. Lightning 1, Penguins 1.
5:27: Just as Steigerwald finishes saying how Staal had some serious presence in the game, he strikes. Staal grabs a loose puck from behind the net and works it to the front of the cage. He jams it past Ramo through his five hole. Penguins 2-1.
5:19: As we come back from commercial, we learn Staal was given credit for the Penguins first goal.
2:52: Hlavac has a prime opportunity in slot, but Rob Scuderi flops to the ice and blocks the shot.
2:41: Laraque trips Richards and is sent to the box.
1:39: Lecavalier winds up and fires a quick slapper that Scuderi blocks again. He can be seen limping after the shot.
0:41: The Penguins kill Laraque's penalty.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Lightning 1.
-The Lightning own a 22-18 edge in shots.
-Paul "The Butcher" Alexanders mauls a few names while doing NHL highlights. Patrik Elias (pronounced "L-E-ashch") comes out "Eel-i-as" and Slava Kozlov comes out "Kosz-lev."
-Mike Yeo is interviewed by Dan Potash prior to the third period. Awesome.
19:37: Crosby tries to get a goal right off the bat. He flies down the left side by Kuba and fires a shot high and far on Ramo that rings off the post and out of play.
18:32: Talbot gets penalized for clipping O'Brien with a high stick. O'Brien gets up with a pretty mean-looking cut over his right eye and is restrained by the officials from going after Talbot. Replays show it was actually the stick of St. Louis that hit O'Brien. Regardless, Talbot gets four minutes for high-sticking. If O'Brien's wearing a visor, he doesn't get cut.
17:39: St. Louis is sprung on a mini-breakaway. He approaches the net and tries to beat Conklin with a backhander. Conklin is in perfect position and stops the shot easily.
15:50: Basically because he plays Lecavalier, St. Louis and Richards the entire game, John Tortorella calls a time out.
15:32: Kuba winds up and blasts a shot from the point that rings off the cross bar
14:32: The Penguins dodge a big bullet and kill the penalty.
4:38: Coming back from commercial, Errey compares Crosby to Olympic speedskater Eric Heiden. Errey then asks if anyone remembers Heiden wearing his tights. Thankfully, we don't.
2:39: What in the name of Hans Jonsson was that? Sykora winds up and blasts a slapper from the left side. His blade breaks and flutters towards the net. While that is going on, the puck deflects off Staal's skate into the crease where Ryan Malone is able to jam it in past Ramo. What a crazy goal. Penguins 3-1.
1:39: Ramo leaves the net in favor of an extra attacker.
0:11: Malkin takes the puck in the neutral zone and flings towards the empty cage for easy goal. Penguins 4-1.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 4, Lightning 1.
-The official attendance was 20,426. And that wasn't a "Sidney Crosby crowd" that was just there to see the best player in the world. Tampa Bay is a legit hockey market. The Lightning has routinely drawn in excess of 20,000 since it won the Stanley Cup in 2004.
-What exactly is that pink thing on Ramo's helmet? A brain or a squid?
-Filip Kuba led all skaters with 27:58 of ice time.
-Crosby failed to score a point for the first time in nine games. His last game without a point was a 4-0 loss to the Rangers Dec. 18. Trade him.
-Maxime Talbot played like someone who hadn't played in weeks. He was hungry and was very aggressive on the forecheck.
-Ryan Stone's parent were in the house to see their son play his first NHL game.
-The "dangerous" Tampa Bay power play went 0-for-4.
-The Lightning controlled the faceoff battle, 35-23.
OVECHKIN GETS PAID
The Capitals signed superstar Alexander Ovechkin to the largest contract in NHL history. (Registration required) Ovechkin will wear the red and blue of the Capitals or whatever color they change their jersey to for quite a while after signing a 13-year, $124 million deal.
The first six years of the deal will see him make $9 million per season while the last seven years will play $10 million
Is Ovechkin worth it? With apologies to Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk, he is the most exciting player in the sport, but that excitement hasn't generated much success on the ice or in the stands for the Capitals. The team has gone 75-101-31 during Ovechkin's time in the Washington failing to reach the playoff his first two seasons. At the gate, the Capitals have struggled to fill Verizon Center. The Capitals were 28th in attendance in 2005-06 and 27th in 2006-07. Ovechkin's presence in Washington has failed to generate buzz for his team that Sidney Crosby has for the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
You can hardly put the bulk of Washington's struggles on Ovechkin's shoulders though. Despite having a poor supporting cast around him, Ovechkin has led the NHL in goal-scoring since he entered the league. He also became the first player since Terry Sawchuk (1950-51 and 1951-52) to be named a first-team NHL all-star his first two seasons.
Another thought to ponder is if this is a good deal for the Capitals or the NHL. The current collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHLPA expires prior to the 2011-12 season. Assuming a new CBA is agreed to by that time, will Ovechkin's contract (or similar ones signed by Rick DiPietro of the Islanders and Mike Richards of the Flyers) be viable in whatever economic climate exists in that time?
While Ovechkin's contract may have answered questions concerning his future, it may have opened a whole new can of worms.
EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS
-Sidney Crosby's jersey is the top seller in the NHL.
-Hockey fans are buying a lot of Penguins stuff.
-Jeff Taffe was named to the PlanetUSA roster (i.e. non-Canadian) for the AHL's all-star game. He was the only Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin named to the team. Former Penguins center Toby Petersen made the roster.
-Did the Penguins pull the plug too soon on Mark Recchi?
-Will the Penguins have a goaltending controversy when Marc-Andre Fleury returns? You can vote on it here.
-Scott Hartnell's hat trick helped the Flyers pound the Rangers, 6-2.
-Travis Zajac had a goal and an assist for the Devils in a 4-1 win at Carolina.
-The Islanders moved Miroslav Satan to the first line.
-Dean McAmmond's shootout goal gave the Senators a 3-2 win against the Sabres.
-Mathieu Dandenault scored two goals for the Canadiens in a 5-2 win at Boston.
-Senators coach John Paddock said it's a good thing to elbow an opponent's best player in the head. He also said he wasn't cool with Geico's sale pitch.
-A shootout goal by Olli Jokinen gave the Panthers a 3-2 win against the Thrashers.
-Paul Kariya had a goal and two assist while Brad Boyes scored two goals as the Blues beat the Stars, 4-2.
-The Blackhawks signed defenseman Brent Sopel to a contract extension.
-Marian Gaborik scored a goal in the shootout and gave the Wild a 6-5 win at Detroit.
-Kyle Brodziak, Denis Grebeshkov and Robert Nilsson each had a goal and an assist for the Oilers in a 5-2 win against the Coyotes.
-Craig Leipold, the former owner of the Predators, agreed to purchase the Wild.
-Dustin Brown scored two goals for the Kings in a 5-2 win against the Maple Leafs.
-Joe Thornton assisted on all three of the Sharks goal in a 3-1 win at Vancouver. Jeremy Roenick scored his 503 career goal and passed former Penguin Joe Mullen for second place among American-born goal-scorers.
-National television ratings for the NHL have risen in the United States.
-TSN had a piece on players reacting to the news that the shootout contest at the All-Star Game will be a "judged" event: